I could see the little girl’s mouth moving, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying over the sound of the electric razor. She fidged on the wooden bench and motioned in the air with her arms as I continued to shake my head and repeat, “Lydia! Lydia, I can’t hear you!” I finally gave up and leaned back against the wall, smiling shyly at the two old men across the barbershop on the far side of the long bench. They seemed to be trying to figure out if my daughter was having some kind of seizure. I just shrugged and they went back to their magazines.
Finally, the little girl and the electric razor stopped talking at the exact same moment. The woman in the center of the room began brushing a young man’s hair and Lydia just smiled up at me with a straight mouthed grin. Her bottom lip sucked into her mouth and her eyes strangely narrowed.
“Okay,” I said cautiously. “I have no idea what you said just now.”
She blinked at me, confused. Then her mouth dropped open, then it closed again without making a sound, then she opened it and sighed dramatically. “I was just saying that this kind of reminds me of the other time when Clara went away and Gideon and I were left behind.” Her words whistled from time to time through the fresh gap in the front of her teeth. “And that time we had an ice cream party.”
This time, Clara was with grandparents and Gideon was asleep in the car outside with their mother. I was alone on this adventure with only Lydia.
I waited a few seconds and when she didn’t continue I asked, “Okay, when are you talking about? Because I don’t remember that.”
“Oh, you weren’t there. It was just Clara and me and Gideon…” her arms began to fly around again in a nonsensical interpretation of her story. “See, Gideon and I wanted to have a dance party, but Clara kept saying, ‘No no I’m trying to sleep! I’m boring!’ but we said, ‘You shouldn’t be sleeping you should dance with us! We can sleep later.’ so she said, ‘Actually I’m going to just leave now if you guys are going to keep making so much noise.’ So she left. Then Gideon and I had our dance party without her and then ate ice cream until it was time for me to go.” She smiled and looked blankly across the room for a moment as her eyes went out of focus, “Then it was just Gideon. He says he set up a disco ball on the ceiling, but he missed me too much and couldn’t have any dance parties when he was alone. So, he had to wait until we were together again.”
I leaned forward so I broke her line of sight. “Lydia. When did that ever happen? Did you have a dream or something?”
She laughed, and it was an explosive and genuine laugh that made the old men at the end of the bench look up at us again tiredly for a moment before going back to their hunting magazines. “A dream? ” she said, “No, this wasn’t a dream, it was real. This was when we were all in momma’s tummy.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Oh, wait. you mean, before you were born?”
She nodded and poked me sharply on the chest, “Yes!” Then she looked slowly and solemnly around the room, at each corner of the barber shop with its wooden benches, walls mounted with animal heads, the giant wall-sized mirror and fancy barber chairs. In the far corner, a television was tuned to a program where a bearded man was explaining how to fly fish. “This reminds me of that place.” She looked at me mysteriously out the corner of her eye, “Only we had ice cream back then, so…”